Re: divine action/creaturely action

From: Howard J. Van Till (
Date: Mon Jun 11 2001 - 20:36:54 EDT

  • Next message: Howard J. Van Till: "Re: divine action/creaturely action"

    Uko writes:

    > In response to Howard and George's questions, I have reservations about the
    > terms "coercive" or "persuasive" in reference to divine action. Both terms
    > a connotation that the world exists independent of God as some autonomous
    > (entities).

    It need not be radically independent. Chris Kaiser's term, 'relative
    autonomy' would be OK. The key, I believe, is the idea that the universe has
    an authentic being (nature, character....) that is honored (not violated by
    coercion) by its Creator. My concern to explore this issue is, of course,
    rooted in my frequently stated objections to all forms of episodic
    creationism, which presumes a need for occasional episodes of form-imposing
    (coercive) divine intervention to actualize some (or all) specific physical
    or biotic forms.

    > The challenge for us is to understand the differentiation of laws that thus
    > account for the diversity of the unfolding, development and continued
    > of created structures. This includes, for example, the recognition that there
    > are also biotic laws (as distinct from physical/chemical laws) that also hold
    > for living things. Living things are distinct from non-living, physical things
    > in that they are also subject to biotic laws which account for the life
    > functions that they reveal. An example of such a biotic law would be the "law
    > for cell division". Cell division is a pattern of a life (biotic) function of
    > cells. The cell division is a function of the cell, subject to the biotic law
    > for cell growth and division. Although this function of cells orchestrates the
    > activities of many molecules (physical entities) enclosed within the cell, the
    > cell division itself is not a function of those molecules. Our understanding
    > the roles of these molecules and the numerous cell division genes (cdc genes)
    > that are involved with the cell division process has certainly contributed to
    > our understanding of regulatory pathways of the cell division process, but the
    > cell division itself is not a function of any one of these genes, but rather
    > the cell as a living entity. The process of cell division is thus governed by
    > the laws for the cell, including the "law" for cell division.

    Other philosophically inclined biologists might prefer to account for these
    same phenomena in the language of 'emergent properties,' or, better yet,
    'emergent capabilities.' I might be inclined to place more emphasis on the
    Creation employing its formational capabilities to actualize potentialities
    for form, potentialities that are an integral aspect of its being.

    > I don't see how the terms coercive or persuasive helps me in understanding the
    > notion of governance as divine action.

    Neither do I. I asked about the nature of governance as divine action
    because of your heavy emphasis of the law/governance metaphor.


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